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Posts Tagged ‘strength’

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. (Winston Churchill)

The electricity goes out late Thursday morning seconds after I hear a loud blast—probably a transformer on an adjoining street. My husband has left the house to pick up Ella from preschool. My job is to have lunch ready. Our kitchen is small, with one window and low light. Fortunately I have a gas stove, and can turn-on the burners with a match. An open back door provides enough sun to let me know when my homemade soup is warm enough and the sandwiches are toasted, not transformed into charcoal. A chilly breeze slips through occasionally, but natural sun beats a candle flame.

Our little Ella adapts. After lunch she opens her school bag and pulls out her glasses. “Book,” she says. She doesn’t complain about inconvenience. Down syndrome has delayed her ability to communicate verbally. Nevertheless, she gets her point across, with a gentle, loving style.

She is way ahead when it comes to self-acceptance. She doesn’t battle pride on the level many people do. She doesn’t need to be the most accomplished kid in her class—among the most loving will do. People can live to be in their eighties without reaching her ability to accept, to give, to be without pretense.

As my husband reads to her I remember another child I saw last night at a memorial service for my father at his church.

Across the aisle was a family with a young boy who had some serious handicap or illness. I did not know him or anyone in his family. However, I noticed the way his mother held his hand and stroked his hair, how his father and siblings paid attention to him with simple, yet significant gestures. I watched as the mother nodded to the boy, unstrapped him from his stroller, and then lifted his limp body onto her lap. She carefully attended to his breathing tube. Then, smiling, she caressed him as if he were a newborn.

That family understood love.

The priest spoke of loss, its meaning. He also talked about life. I had no idea what hope the family held for this child, but they were living the present to the fullest.

Our little Ella has had pulmonary hypertension. We were told that she could, possibly, outgrow it. When she was small she was on oxygen 24/7; as she grew older she needed it only at night. Last week her numbers indicated that she no longer required oxygen. Our family celebrated as if a war had ended. My celebration changed, deepened perhaps, as I watched that family.

I still cherished our granddaughter’s healing, but I wondered about the strength of that family’s gifts. All I saw was a single moment in time, like the cover of a book that held thousands of pages filled with stories, some tragic, some beautiful. In my own tiny church community we can speak to one another, no one left out except by choice. In this large congregation that wasn’t possible. The ceremony was formal, and these folk left before we did anyway. Actually, I didn’t know what I could have said. My thoughts didn’t have words, only a vague sense of awe that would have been cheapened if I tried to translate them.

All I know now is that there is a book next to me that I can open at any time, or a pad of paper where I can write. However, on my other side is a little girl named Ella giggling over a computer game. And I don’t want to miss one second of it.

you are of infinite worth

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